Unilever Kenya has kicked off its Schools Program which will run for 4 weeks in different schools across the country.
Through the Schools Program, Unilever aims to reach 5 million school going children by 2020; last year Blue Band was able to reach 1.25 million children in 510 schools through an interactive and fun behaviour change nutrition education program. According to one of the Unilever Marketing Directors, Antony Esyalai, this year the program has set out to reach 1.5 million children across 600 schools.
According to a recent study by TNS, a leading research organization in Africa, the average breakfast of most Kenyan families is deficient of essential nutrients. Some of the reasons cited by this research that contribute to inadequate breakfast are time constraint, limited knowledge on importance of breakfast and inability to embrace variety of foods for breakfast.
“To achieve this we need a behavior change campaign to raise awareness on the importance of a good breakfast and the role it can play in alleviating malnutrition and promotion of a child’s wellbeing and Good Breakfast campaign is a good starting point,” said Prof Judith Kimiywe, a lecturer at Kenyatta University, Food and Nutrition department.
Micronutrient deficiencies may have adverse effects on children’s growth and development.
According to studies, the global prevalence of stunting - when a child is too short for his age - has decreased over the past decades, however, still 161 million children under the age of five years are stunted.
There are high malnutrition rates in Africa specifically stunting and Vitamin A deficiency which is key for school growing children. Approximately 200 million children under the age of five, mostly living in sub-Saharan Africa, fail to reach their cognitive, motor and social-emotional potential because of micro-nutrient deficiencies and inadequate stimulation.
According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS), (2014) 26% of the under five children are stunted, 11% underweight and 4% wasted. Stunting rates are highest (36%) in children aged 18-23 months and lowest (10%) in children aged less than 6 months.
A growing body of research has revealed the important role of breakfast in ensuring adequate nutrient intake in children and a daily nutritious breakfast may contribute to longer term healthy growth and development of children.
For instance just 2 slices of bread spread with Blue Band each day already fulfills 1/3 of kids’ daily need for Omega 3 & 6 to have a healthy growth and development.
A number of dietary guidelines in the world define a good breakfast as one that provides 15-25% of daily requirements on energy and micronutrients.
“We are excited to embark on this year’s School Program, a campaign that will not only impart children with important knowledge on good breakfast, but also contribute to the government’s efforts to improve the nutritional status of Kenyans,” noted Antony during the launch event held at Nairobi Primary School.
Unilever is also in partnership with the Good Breakfast Alliance (GBA), which brings together organisations drawn from the private and public sector that share a common interest to tackle malnutrition and make nutritious breakfast an everyday reality for families and particularly school-going-children in Kenya.
The alliance brings together the following organisations; Ministry of Health, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), Kenya Medical Research Institution (KEMRI), World Food Programme, (WFP), Kenyatta University, Kenya Paediatric Association, Feed the Children, Brookside and Kenya Medical Association.
About Unilever Kenya
Unilever is one of the leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products in Kenya. With about 19,000 employees, Unilever is one of the largest private employers in the region. Working to create a better future every day, Unilever helps people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Its portfolio includes most loved locally produced brands, OMO, Sunlight, Blue Band, Royco, Geisha and Vaseline, as well as key world’s renowned brands, like Knorr, Dove, Lux, Axe, among many others.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan commits to:
- Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.
- Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.
- Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.
Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2016 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the sixth year running. Unilever was ranked the most sustainable food and beverage company in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard in 2016 for the second year. The company was also ranked Top Employer for 2015/16 in Kenya by the Top Employer Institute, an international certification institute.